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When you build multiple cars off the same platform, as Ford is doing with the CD3, the goal is to make them "distinct". Mercury takes a shot at it with the 2006 Milan, billed as a premium mid-size sedan. The style, inside and out, is aimed directly at 26-35 year olds, vying to get those ages inside a Lincoln-Mercury dealer. More info on the Milan at the link.

Mercury just didn?t pick the Milan name because it starts with an ?M?. Designers wanted a name that ?connotes visions of a modern, fashionable European city? to fit with the car?s design theme. One feature that cannot be ignored is Mercury?s waterfall grille complete with a satin nickel finish. Lines are meant to be clean, not brash or showy. Headlights wrap up over the fenders and taillights are distinct and lit via light-emitting diodes (LED), a standard feature.

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Power is delivered in two ways, the standard 2.3 liter Duratec 23 four-cylinder or the 3.0-liter Duratec 30 V-6. Stick with the base engine and you can opt to mate a five-speed manual or automatic to the 160 hp four. Move up to the 210 hp V-6 and your only transmission choice is a six-speed automatic. Mercury (and all of Ford) is stepping up use of the six-speed auto to get power to wheels much more smoothly and help increase mileage in the fuel economy race.

The Milan will be sold in two trims, standard and Premier, both available with the four or six cylinder powertrains, proving just because you want more features doesn?t mean you want a bigger engine. All Milan models have a long list of standard features including a six-way power driver?s seat, CD audio system, an analog clock, remote keyless entry, power windows and locks and power heated exterior mirrors. Next year, AWD will become another option for Milan shoppers.

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Inside, the Milan catches the eyes with two themes, satin aluminum finishes and two tone leather seating. Inspiration for the interior comes from the finishes of well-designed home appliances with details that would make you believe that you are sitting in a costlier machine. The satin aluminum trim can be switched with a Wales Mahogany wood trim finish. Mercury engineers also spent time on sound deadening materials and a stronger structure to ensure a quiet cabin. The Milan can be outfitted with 6 total air bags including side roof-rail curtains.
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The Milan brings many questions to the table that remain to be answered; will Lincoln-Mercury dealers be able to sell both the low-key Zephyr and Milan (we don?t mean low-key as a negative here) on the same floor; Is there enough differentiation in the way that the Fusion, Zephyr and Milan behave on the road; Will the Milan bring in the Gen X crowd that so many automakers covet? These questions will be answered once the cars hit the streets and when Autoblog gets ?em and tests ?em.


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